The Hunt for Talent

Having successfully organised numerous sourcing related workshops and conferences, it is not uncommon for us to be approached to undertake recruitment assignments. We have always found it exciting to put the ideas that we preach into actual practice, given Martin and I have written recruitment courses and trained many recruiters over the years.
So recently, we were tasked to recruit talent for an organisation operating in in the Renewable Energy space, an area where I must admit we are not familiar with at all. There was a mixture of anticipation and apprehension – anticipation because this is what we are good at and apprehension because of the challenges we might face due to the current VUCA business environment our economy is operating in.
Laying the groundwork
To begin, Martin and I spent a few days researching the market, to gain a better understanding of the industry trends and types of candidates. Based on this information, we drew up a shortlist of prospective candidates and went to our client with lots of questions before starting the search proper.
This research was invaluable in creating incremental knowledge for our client and gaining a benchmark for the type of candidates we needed. It also aligned the client to our thinking at the start of the process and created confidence in our skills. In addition, they helped us better engage our prospective candidates.
The hunt beginsHunt for Talent
Based off this research we then drew up a Recruitment Plan that would guide us through the talent hunting process.
First, Martin created a series of Boolean search strings and refined them continuously until they generated a list of relevant candidates. He then reviewed each candidate carefully against the key criteria and shortlisted candidates for each position. This list was gold as it was a representative sample of the best candidates in the market and it contained thought leaders who knew other candidates.
While Martin was busy working his magic on the Internet, I devoted my time to crafting candidate engagement emails. These emails need to capture candidates’ attention fast and accurately highlight the position’s value proposition. I then follow up these emails with personal phone calls to further elaborate the position on offer and to solicit feedback from these candidates.
Communicating with the client
After having a chat with the candidates, it was time to present what we had found to our client.
Communicating clearly and regularly with the client during the selection process was key to the success of this assignment. We provided weekly status reports on our progress to ensure they were onside with our recruitment process.
Giving the client relevant information on how the candidates matched the key position criteria also helped and this was done through a Requirements Analysis that we had the candidates prepare. This allowed candidates an opportunity to showcase their experiences and explain how they are a good match for the position.
In addition, we also provided all shortlisted candidates’ CVs, LinkedIn and Crystalknows profiles to the client to allow them get to know each candidate better.
Lastly, we made a point to do anything to make the project work – without hesitation. We provided market information, rewrote Position Descriptions, wrote emails on behalf of the client to candidates and we managed the clients calendar appointments with the candidates.
[bctt tweet=”Regular communication with your client is key to a successful talent hunt process says @trevorpvas”]
What I learnt?
Aside from learning how to juggle between my Christmas/New Year’s engagements while arranging phone interviews with candidates and managing our client’s expectations, I did pick up on some interesting observations during the recruitment process.
number 1I noticed many candidates’ LinkedIn (LI) profiles were not up to scratch. They are on LI because they feel that they need to, NOT because they are promoting their experience and skills.

Question: How can a recruiter identify good candidates from their sucky LI profiles in today’s VUCA environment? Do recruiters have moral obligations to help these candidates improve their LI profiles?

Key learnings: Recruiters need to adopt a flexible mindset when recruiting. Try to think out of the box when it comes to identifying that special candidate.

number 2A clear candidate engagement strategy was key in helping me build trust and confidence.

Question: How can a recruiter be sure to make a good impression on candidates and convince them to consider switching jobs in today’s VUCA environment?

Fact: The economy is slowing and organisations are keen to keep hold of their high value employees to ensure their continual survival.

Key learnings: Researching candidates’ background on LI, Google and Crystalknows helped enormously. My previous research helped familiarise myself with the industry terms and main trends that enabled me to connect with them better. As many of the roles we were recruiting were high paid contract positions, I also needed to find out the candidates’ propensity to taking risks.

number 3Electrical engineers are conservative by nature but they really understand their industry and trends. They also want to safeguard their career by doing projects that are able extend their skills and experience.

Question: How can a recruiter convince candidates to give up a permanent position and sign on to a contract job in today’s VUCA environment?

Fact: There is a trend moving towards a more contingent workforce.

Key learnings: The rewards must outweigh the risks. A candidate’s current family situation has a bearing on the level of risk they are willing to take. As such the remuneration package must be substantial enough for candidates to consider such an option. A recruiter should also encourage the candidate to consult the views of his or her partner to ensure that the level of risk is acceptable. Lastly, the terms of the contract must reduce the risk where possible.

number 4Other takeaways that I felt also helped me immensely during the recruitment process include:

– You can become market smart with two days focused research;

– You could get access to more great candidates through candidate referees – I actually asked candidate referees for referrals for some of the more senior positions I was recruiting for and was pleasantly surprised with the results;

– Connecting to every candidate on LI as I went through the recruitment process expanded my online network of relevant professionals and this made my job easier;

– Benchmarking prospective candidates gave me a common language with the client and avoided selling.

[bctt tweet=”@trevorpvas: Many candidates are on LinkedIn because they feel they need to, NOT because they want to.”]
The whole process was a hectic, not only because it happened during the festive period but also because of the position requirements and the nature of the industry we are recruiting for. However we recognise that this was all part of the job and Martin and I were glad to be able to fill all the required positions.
What a way to end the year and begin the new one.

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